Premises liability cases arise when a guest is injured on another person’s property, most often happening at someone’s home or place of business. Typical cases include injuries related to slip and falls, poor property maintenance, dog bites, and poorly maintained or unsecured swimming pools. When you are a guest at a business or someone’s home, you deserve to be protected from dangerous conditions and you deserve to be compensated when a landowner or business’s negligence results in your injuries on their property.
Pennsylvania premises liability law
In general, Pennsylvania premises liability law can be boiled down to the following:
A property owner/occupier/manager owes a duty of care to keep his or her guests’ safe from dangers on his or her property. When a dangerous condition exists that a landowner knew about or should have known about, and he or she failed to remediate the danger or warn the guest about the dangerous condition and as a result, the guest is injured, the owner breached his or her duty of care and the guest has a premises liability action.
This is a very condensed version of the law and there are of course, exceptions and defenses. If you have been injured on someone else’s property, contact a premises liability lawyer at SMT Legal to discuss the facts of your case.
Important premises liability case questions
The following questions are important in premises liability cases relating to the duty owed, breach of duty, and possible defenses.
- Why was the guest on the property? Was he or she a social guest, there to conduct business, or a trespasser?
- Was there a dangerous condition on the property that the landowner knew about?
- If upon reasonable inspection of the property, should the landowner have discovered the dangerous condition?
- Was the dangerous condition open and obvious?
- Did the landowner warn its guests about the dangerous condition?
- Was the dangerous condition unduly burdensome to repair or remediate?
Premises liability and trespassers
In Pennsylvania, landowners have little to no duty of care to trespassers depending on the scenario. In most cases, landowners are only liable if they are guilty of wanton or willful negligence or misconduct, however, the duty of care may be elevated if a trespasser is discovered and tolerated by the landowner.
Additionally, children are owed a special duty of care when a landowner has an attractive nuisance on his or her property. An attractive nuisance is something on the property that a landowner should recognize would attract a child and could harm a child because he or she might not appreciate the danger. The landowner has a duty of care to protect foreseeable trespassers from the danger. Examples of attractive nuisance and breach of care are keeping a dangerous animal in an unlocked kennel or loose in the yard, or not securing a swimming pool so that children may not enter.